Devastating impact of Heathrow expansion – our view

CPRE Kent has expressed its concern about the effect on tranquillity and the environment of airport expansion after the Government backed a third runway at Heathrow.
The countryside protection charity has campaigned against airport expansion at both Gatwick and Heathrow, in particular because of the serious impact on air quality and the devastating effect of aircraft noise.

photo: CPRE

photo: CPRE

“Aircraft noise brings misery to those living under the flight paths, including many people in west Kent,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport. “The importance of tranquillity cannot be overstated – it is the main reason why people enjoy the countryside, it can prevent stress and increases our enjoyment of exercise and play.”

Photo: Phil Weedon

Photo: Phil Weedon

CPRE Kent also fears the extraordinary pressure that will be placed on the environment and existing infrastructure around Heathrow. Thousands of additional employees and passengers will be drawn to an area of the country already struggling to cope with the demand for housing and transport. Continue reading

Lorry park consultation response

CPRE Kent has submitted its response to the lorry park consultation, reiterating our stance that a single, huge lorry park is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

Photo, kentonline

Photo, kentonline

Kent is an inevitable and unavoidable bottleneck in the flow of traffic between the UK and the rest of mainland Europe, and the rising volume of freight transiting this bottleneck is the most important issue that needs to be addressed. The disruption caused by Operation Stack in 2015 demonstrated the fragility of the logistics industry’s reliance on this concentrated route.

Operation stack 036  Operation stack 032

Instead of an expensive and damaging lorry park, we call for a solution which would offer real resilience to the nation’s trade and transport links and offer flexible alternatives to the logistics industry, both now and in the future. We believe that investment should instead be made into mandatory improvements in fleet management practices, so that no HGV driver benefits from racing to be nearest the front of a physical queue in Kent in the event of delays in the normal operations of the crossings.

This solution would also put an end to the anti-social ‘fly parking’ of HGVs which blights Kent’s roads, and it would remove the need for the implementation of ‘Dover TAP’ which holds HGVs back in the A20 approaching Dover. While this limits air pollution in the centre of Dover, it causes delays to other road users and merely shifts the air pollution to other areas, such as Aycliffe.

Hilary Newport commented: “We object in the strongest terms to the significant expenditure of public money on a built solution, in the marked absence of a transport strategy that does anything other than support and indeed encourage the steady growth of road based freight.”

In our response we also raise concerns about flooding, the impact on the landscape, heritage assets and the environment, loss of public rights of way and loss of agricultural land.

To read the full response click here.

There is still time to respond to the consultation – the deadline is 23rd september. See the link below for details:

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/managing-freight-vehicles-through-kent/

September 12th 2016


Lorry park should be “temporary”

We were dismayed last week at the Government’s decision to go ahead with a 3,600 space lorry park in Stanford – on an area of countryside the size of Disneyland.

Even the House of Commons Transport Select Committee had said the need had not been sufficiently proven and neither had it been demonstrated that this was the right solution. Chairman of the select committee Louise Ellman called the decision to go ahead “disappointing”.

 

Stanford site, photo Pete Maddox

Stanford site, photo Pete Maddox

There is no doubt that a solution to the misery of Operation Stack is needed, but we, like the Transport Select Committee members, believe the reflex response of a single large lorry park to corral all the HGVs delayed in crossing the channel is not the right solution. We maintain that a better solution would be the active management of the HGVs that are caught up in delays.

Photo by Hilary Newport

Photo by Hilary Newport

Fleet management logistics, electronic communications and vehicle trackers are already in use, and it would be a simple step to require the drivers of HGVs to abide by the instructions of fleet managers who could direct them to dispersed holding areas along their route, calling them forward at a rate which would guarantee their unimpeded passage across the channel. It would have the benefit of not concentrating slow-moving and stationary HGVs in a single location, and would support the delivery of commercial truck stop spaces to help ease the burden of illegal ‘fly parking’ of HGVs on Kent’s roadsides and lay-bys. It would also require a smaller outlay than the £250 Million earmarked for this project, which works out at £70,000 per parking space.

Photo, kentonline

Photo, kentonline

Governments, of course, have a duty to ensure that public money is spent effectively, and that investment will actually deliver the benefits it is supposed to. The proposals for this lorry park have been developed entirely in the absence of any exploration of less expensive and – importantly – less damaging alternatives. This is not a responsible use of public funds, nor a responsible thing to do to the people of Stanford.

If, as looks likely, the lorry park does go ahead regardless, we are calling on the Government to ensure it is classified as “temporary” – particularly as in planning terms it is being rushed through as an emergency measure.

Political situations and trends change – last year’s acute circumstances of strikes and blockades at Calais coupled with security infringements at the Channel Tunnel, could disappear if France changes its industrial relations and if there are changes in civil war situations and regimes in the rest of the world. We just do not know what the need or situation will be in ten or even five years’ time.

Up until last year it was usually only extreme weather that prompted the need for Operation Stack. We cannot predict future need which is why the lorry park must be treated as temporary. If it is proven years from now to be an empty white elephant that does not solve a problem, the countryside can be restored rather than developed further with housing or factories.

July 12th 2016

Dismay at lorry park decision

We are dismayed that the Government has today (July 6th) announced that the £250m lorry park the size of Disneyland will go ahead in the Kent countryside at Stanford. The Government is to start construction at the Stanford west site which will open next year.

photo, SOS Kent

We have argued that this is not the right solution and we need to look at the whole transport strategy, not least for the devastating effects of air pollution on the crowded and congested south east. This is a costly sticking plaster – £250m is almost the entire UK cycling budget.

It is galling that the Transport Select Committee listened to our arguments and agreed that the case had not yet been made to build this “gargantuan” concrete lorry park and other options should be considered, including a network of smaller lorry parks. Those committee findings seem to have been completely ignored.

Last week Hilary Newport set out her thoughts on the major transport problems facing Kent and called for pause for thought – what follows is her her blog. Continue reading

Strongly opposed to damaging new crossing

CPRE Kent has raised significant concerns about the proposed Lower Thames crossing including fears over air quality, transport, devastation of areas of countryside and the complete failure of strategic planning which means it won’t even solve the problem.

Responding the Highways England consultation, we have stressed that we are strongly opposed to option C (bored tunnels from Gravesend) but we would also oppose option A at Dartford because of the longer-term induced traffic growth, congestion and reduction in air quality.

Artist's impression of the bored tunnels

Artist’s impression of the bored tunnels

Director Hilary Newport said: “The planned crossing would damage important areas of countryside that are a vital ‘green lung’ to the urban population of the Medway towns, providing recreation and the opportunity for quiet enjoyment of the countryside which is so important for physical and psychological health.”

These areas include ancient woodland and Metropolitan Green Belt. There would also be an impact on the wider area, a loss of amenity in and around Shorne Country Park and the open landscapes to the north.

Post Opening Performance Evaluation (POPE) studies for new roads schemes have repeatedly shown that new road routes do not just relieve congestion, but create and attract new traffic.

There is already an over-reliance on the channel corridor and the channel crossings for the transport of goods to and from Europe. This should be an issue of national concern for the UK’s resilience and security. Not only is there the need to implement Operation Stack during periods of disruption, but even during normal operations, the Dover ‘Traffic Assessment Project’ (’Dover TAP’) is frequently used to hold back port-bound HGVs on the A20 to limit congestion and air pollution in Dover Town Centre. This of course simply displaces the same congestion and air quality concerns to other parts of the roads network. Continue reading

M20 Junction 10a

CPRE Kent’s Ashford Committee has submitted comments on the proposed new Junction 10a of the M20.

We are concerned about the effect the new junction would have on the wider road network, particularly the Romney Marsh road and the country lanes around Mersham.

Chairman of the Ashford Committee Hilary Moorby said: “It is imperative that the village of Mersham is protected from the village lanes becoming rat runs to the M20. It is also important that a buffer of open countryside between the village and the industrial site U19 (Stour park) is provided.”

M20 approaching Junction 10

M20 approaching Junction 10

Mersham Parish Council has requested that the link between Kingsford  Street and Highfield Lane be closed and we support this.

We also want to know the exact effect on public rights of way and need details of any permanent closure or realignment so that the needs of pedestrians, horses and cyclists can be assessed and provided for.

We are calling for safety measures on the Barrey Rd/A2070 Junction, including traffic lights, a strict enforcement of the proposed 40mph speed limit  and a lane restricted to hospital traffic only.

We also want more done to mitigate the damage to the existing environment and protect the important wildlife on the site.

You can read our full comments here.

March 21st 2016.


Evidence on Operation Stack submitted to Transport Select Committee

CPRE Kent has submitted a written response to the Government’s Transport Committee inquiry on Operation Stack.

This follows last October’s one off evidence session into the impact of Operation Stack following the chaos of last summer.

In November 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced funding up to £250 million for a permanent lorry park to increase resilience in Kent, by taking pressure off the roads in the event of Operation Stack. The Government is consulting on a preferred site at Stanford and other alternatives. In the short term, the former Manston Airport site will continue to be used as a lorry park.

 

Operation stack 035 Operation stack 036

CPRE Kent holds to the principle that a single permanent lorry park which is used only in the event
that Operation Stack needs to be implemented is the wrong solution to the wrong problem. Kent is
an inevitable and unavoidable bottleneck in the flow of traffic between the UK and the rest of
mainland Europe, and the high and rising volume of road-borne freight transiting the county is the
most important issue that needs to be addressed.
The disruptions to Kent and the UK’s economy, as well as the unacceptable impacts on local lives and livelihoods, that resulted from the lengthy implementation of Operation Stack in 2015 served to
demonstrate the fragility of the logistics industry’s reliance on this concentrated route. We contend
that the time has come for a solution which would offer real resilience to the nation’s trade and
transport links and offer flexible alternatives to the logistics industry, both now and in the future.
We propose a 21st Century solution to the problems of over-concentration of road-based HGVs in
Kent.

To read our full submission click here.

For details of the inquiry click here.

February 29th 2016

Lower Thames Crossing debate

We will be debating the proposed new Lower Thames Crossing at an important public meeting next week.

Wednesday, 2nd March
St John’s Catholic Comprehensive School, Rochester Road, Gravesend, Kent DA12 2JW

Doors open 18:00 for 19:00 start

Lower Thames Crossing image

Organised by Gravesham Neighbourhood Forums, the speakers are CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport and Highways England Consultation Manager Martin Potts. The meeting will be chaired by journalist Iain McBride with maximum time for questions.

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

Meanwhile we have raised our concerns about the implications for pollution of the proposed new crossing.

Alex Hills, Chairman of the Dartford and Gravesham branch of CPRE Kent, said: “We all know that pollution is a killer with the young most at risk and yet the route being promoted passes many schools. We find it baffling that Highways England is not going to do a full modelling of the impact on air quality until after the route has been chosen.”(1)

Highways England documents state that no parts of the south east meet the ambient air quality directive(2) and Gravesend and Rochester town centres already exceed safe pollution levels. Experts calculate that pollution accounts for 40,000(3) early deaths a year. Research has proven that pollution can cause asthma, strokes and heart attacks, so should be regarded as a serious health issue.(4)

It is for this reason the government is supposed to be working towards reducing UK emissions by 60%.  Air pollution reduces brain function and development in children(5). A new tunnel and the associated road network leading to and from the tunnel will only lead to a worsening of air pollution levels in Kent and Essex.

Alex Hills said: “The increasing evidence on the effects of air pollution on people’s health makes the government’s insistence on a new road crossing indefensible. There needs to be a proper study into the alternatives. We have called for a sustainable transport strategy to ease congestion not just here but on the M20 and at Dover too.”

(1)Highways England document volume 6.4.3.6

(2)In 2015 the Supreme court ruled the UK had been in breach of the Ambient Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC since 2010

(3)Royal College of Physicians-Channel 4 Despatches 22.2.2016

(4)Queen Marys Hospital London, Professor Jonathan Grigg and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Professor David Newby, Channel 4 Despatches 22.2.2016

(5)Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona Professor Jordi Sunyer- Channel 4 Despatches 22.2.2016

For more information on our policy position click here.

February 25 2016.

We question whether huge lorry park is the answer to Operation Stack

We have questioned whether it is sensible to rely on a huge lorry park in the Kent countryside as a solution to Operation Stack when it may well only be used for a very few days each year.

While recognising that last summer’s unprecedented disruption caused by Operations Stack was totally unacceptable, we believe a longer term, more creative and sustainable solution is required.

Photo by Hilary Newport

Photo by Hilary Newport

Director Hilary Newport said: “We do not think that a single huge lorry park, which may only be called into use for a few days – if at all – in any year is the answer. A better solution would offer real resilience to the logistics industry now and into the future and help not just Kent but the whole country cope with disruption, strikes or emergency, such as extreme weather, fire or security threats.”

Not only that but other problems need to be addressed including roadside parking of HGVs with the associated litter and noise; noise and air pollution caused by engines running in slow-moving traffic jams or when stationary to keep refrigeration units running; disproportionate wear and tear on Kent’s roads.

CPRE Kent contends that instead of the expensive and damaging construction of a single lorry park, investment should be made to:

    • Support a network of dispersed, serviced truck stops which operate on a commercial basis and which have some degree of overflow capacity in the event of disruption to the channel crossings. Many shippers prohibit trucks stopping within 120km of Calais. Similar measures should be employed to hold vehicles outside the Channel Corridor until called forward
    • Incentivise the use of alternative ports of entry and exit (such as Newhaven, Ramsgate, Sheerness, Dartford, Portsmouth, Purfleet), as well as modal shift away from road-based freight – this would also have the additional benefit of reducing reliance on the Dartford crossings
    • Incentivise shippers to return to unaccompanied trailer operations across the Channel which would also boost UK employment of HGV drivers and reduce emissions
    • Work with the logistics industry, fleet operators and drivers to implement ‘smart queuing’ – smart phones, GPS and communications technology should remove the need for drivers to be nearest the front of any physical queue in Kent, when they could be called forward from dispersed locations further afield and guaranteed timely passage across the channel.
    • Implement ‘quick wins’ – we support the expansion of the existing Stop24 truck facility south of the M20 at J11, which could rapidly provide a partial solution.

Dr Newport said: “With modern technology and sophisticated international business operations, we are sure there is a better solution than allowing all the lorries to build up in Kent with no other way of reaching Europe than the Dover/ Folkestone to Calais crossings.”

To read CPRE Kent’s full position paper click here.

To read our consultation response, submitted 25th January 2016, click here.

January 25th 2016

Lower Thames Crossing

CPRE Kent, working together with CPRE Essex, has produced a policy statement on the Lower Thames Crossing. We are calling for a wider, more resilient solution, including investment in ports north of the Thames to disperse the cross channel movement of freight.

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

We believe better operation of the existing Thames crossings within a sustainable transport strategy would:

  • Be free from congestion
  • Have acceptably low air pollution levels
  • Be part of a dispersed strategic transport network and channel crossing system, resilient to economic, security and weather issues
  • Reduce the number of loaded trucks parking up overnight and at weekends on local roads
  • Offer a partnership with fleet managers for an end to unsocial working conditions for drivers
  • Promote more diversion to rail and unaccompanied trailer operations
  • Herald the beginning of a lower impact future for transport through Kent and Essex

To read the full policy statement click here.

December 15th 2015

Rural Rat Runs!

The problems of rat running traffic, inconsiderate driving and danger to walkers, cyclists and equestrians on our rural lanes are all too familiar in Kent.  CPRE has long been campaigning for lower speed limits on rural lanes and for better provision to be made for non-motorised road users.

We do not normally favour road closures, but in the case of Cornford Lane, an ancient lane on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whose character and safety are being destroyed by through traffic, an experimental Traffic Regulation Order and a barrier half way along it to prevent its use as a through route by motor vehicles appears to be the best solution.  See the website of the Friends of Cornford Lane www.cornfordlane.co.uk for further details and to add your voice to their petition.


Manston for sale!

Of course we are saddened to think that existing jobs at Manston might be out at risk, but it confirms our long-standing concerns that Manston has been unable to become a commercial success for many reasons, not least its lack of infrastructure. Manston airport has consistently struggled to attract passengers and airline operators to the airport despite the massive amounts of investment into it.

If a fresh start means that new airport operators are able to breathe new life into Manston airport, we sincerely hope that Thanet District Council will take this as an opportunity to bring the whole operation under the proper control of a robust planning agreement that will protect the interests of all of Thanet’s residents. The prospect of intensification of night flights, while Manston airport has been unable to exploit its daytime capacity, has hung over the county for far too long.